A Call to Worship
Ash Wednesday Year C 2013
Psalm 51: 1-17

God of salvation’s joy, we gather to celebrate and revere you.
We come: realising that we are broken, forgive and re-create us.

God of unfailing love, we gather to worship and honour you.
We come: and because of your compassion, forgive and renew us.

God of new beginnings, we gather to praise and thank you.
We come: and through your grace and mercy, forgive and
restore us; so that with clean hearts we may truly worship you. Amen.

Prayers of Confession
Ash Wednesday Year C 2013
Psalm 51: 1-17

God of faithful promises, our Help and our Strength, we come to confess
our sin to you. As a community of people called to worship and serve you,
we are very conscious of the ways in which we have failed your love and
grace, so freely given to us. Faithful God, because of your constant love
shared amongst us so generously, we do not feel that we are worthy of your
love and mercy; yet to whom else can we go, as you offer us your eternal love.
Do not evict us from your presence, and give us again your joyous salvation.

God of steadfast love and generosity, in faith and hope we come to you,
seeking your cleansing and purifying forgiveness; and asking that you remove
the blot of sinfulness from our whole being. Only then can our heart, our
mind and our soul be refreshed and renewed; so that we may worship you
in truth and holiness. You do not seek from us a mindless response, but rather,
you long for us to return to you in penitence and faith; and trusting in God’s
everlasting faithfulness towards all who honestly seek to honour their God.
In each of us, create a clean wholesomeness, so we may truly worship you.

God of gentle strength and true holiness, we come seeking your blessing on
all gathered here in worship, so that our minds may be unblocked, our hearts
freed from the prison of pride and selfishness; and lips may be unsealed, so
that we may sing, speak and live as your beloved, in your world. You call us
to offer to you our genuine acts of worship and praise; all of which arise from
the brokenness of our living, and the saving and gracious mercy you offer to
all people who turn in faith and repentance to you – their Lord and Saving God.
Restore to us a joyous willingness, so we may truly acclaim and worship our God. Amen.

A Personal Meditation
Ash Wednesday Year C 2013
Psalm 51: 1-17

“Have mercy on me, O God,... blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from
my guilt. Purify me from my sins... wash me..Give me back my joy again... now
let me rejoice.... Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, and
renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t
take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and
make me willing to obey you....Forgive me...Unseal my lips O Lord...”
What a list
of requests that David placed before his forgiving God! David made promises to
God to change his life, if God granted him these requests; but I don’t think David
was “bargaining” with God. His remorse was too real; his anguish too sincere; and
as “A man after God’s heart...” - I believe that David genuinely sought to live a life
renewed in and through God’s generosity. In my prayers of confession, do I try
to bargain with God, if God provides what I request or demand? If so, what is the
motivation behind my efforts at bargaining? David wanted to worship and serve
God with his whole heart, mind and body – do I have the same approach to God?

Creative pause: Do I try to bargain with God as I pray my prayer requests?

David’s self recognition was an essential element of his sincere prayer of confession.
“...I recognise my shameful deeds - they haunt me day and night. I have done what
is evil in your sight....I was born a sinner... you have broken me.... You would not be
pleased with sacrifices, ...if I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit and repentant heart, you will not despise....”

David needed to admit to various specific sins before he realised his utter helplessness
and dependence on God for forgiveness and a richer and better life of obedience, and
God’s help in fulfilling his God-defined role in life. I have often wondered about the
difference between having a sense of “denominational guilt”, brought about by it being
thrust into childlike minds by “fire and brimstone” preaching; and a genuine penitence?

Creative pause: What is the difference between “denominational guilt” and true penitence?

When David’s requests and self-recognition sections are removed from the Psalm,
what we have left is an understanding and acceptance of how merciful and gracious
our God is towards penitent sinners. “...O God, because of your great compassion...
You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. ...You
desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being...
Then I will teach your ways to sinners, and they will return to you... O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness... O Lord, that I may praise you...”
Thanks be
to our Glorious and Forgiving God, who invites us into a close and renewing relationship
with our God, who loves us despite our sin, and who redeems us through God’s grace.

Creative pause: Thanks be to our Glorious and Forgiving God!

Unless stated otherwise, all Bible readings and extracts used in these weekly Prayers and
Meditations are from the ‘New Living Translation’, © 1996. Copyright. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189 USA.

*The additional weekly numbering is from the Revised COCU Indexing Scheme
COCU = ('Consultation on Church Union'); as it offers an easy sequential numbering for the Revised
Common Lectionary for the Church Calendar.

If any part of these Prayers and/or Meditations is used in shared worship, please provide
the following acknowledgement:
© 2013 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.


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